Life as we know it
Used-book Store Division
Tim Torkildson writes: “Dinkytown, by the University of Minnesota campus, had a plentitude of used-book stores when I was a lackbeard.
“On Saturdays and school holidays, I spelunked down amidst the flyblown stacks for abandoned literary geodes. I found them, too: such glittering paperback treasures as ‘Winston Churchill: An Informal Study of Greatness,’ by Robert Lewis Taylor, and the whimsical ‘Three Men in a Boat,’ by Jerome K. Jerome. I paid a quarter for each of those jewels and read them so avidly that the brown and brittle pages fluttered down upon my bedroom carpet like October leaves. No matter; I had gleaned enough wild and weird fancies from them, and others like them, to last me a lifetime.
“It’s been 10 years since I set foot in Minneapolis, or Dinkytown, so I have no idea if the neighborhood still harbors any used-book stores. Nowadays I dawdle at a used-book store just down the street from my Senior Citizens’ apartment building. I was in there today, inhaling all that lovely word dust, and this is what I wrote while in there:
“‘You can be alone in a used-book store but not feel lonely. These used-car lots of literature have a welcoming smell of lignin that is like an old companion come to visit. With the winter sun streaming through the windows, I feel cloistered and part of a brotherhood, because books themselves have a friendly feel about them. They don’t judge you or nag you or give you HIV or sue you. I can’t imagine the Afterlife as a place without books.
“‘The Pioneer Book Store on Center Street in downtown Provo is a sturdy book bastion, generously endowed with comfortable leather chairs on both floors. If life is going to pass me by, it will happen in a used-book store like this one — where I can dip into as many volumes as I like and let the world go hang.
“‘While never frivolous, a used-book store is not wont to take itself too seriously, either. The shelves tend to sag under the weight of old, well-bound books, and the different sections are indicated by hand-lettered signs on casual scraps of paper. It is a flea market for the mind, where you can find anything from a biography of Henry Ward Beecher to a straggling line of Louis L’Amour shoot-em-up Western paperbacks.
“‘A used-book store is a place to sit down and start to wander. To nod off and then wake up in a dream. They are quiet and simple and clubby. The very motes that glide by in the silent sunlight are detached molecules from poems. How do you rate a magical place? How do you rate a used-book store? It’s either Open, or Closed. That’s all.'”
Then & Now
Including: Ask a silly question
Poet X of PDX: “Am I the only one (I know, I know) who misses the original Stove Top Stuffing, when the herbs and spices had to first be boiled with the butter for 10 or 15 minutes? Back then I thought it was extraneous, but maybe it wasn’t. I think the end product was a bit tastier — or something.
“Instructions now are to get the water boiling and add the entire package of bread cubes, which includes the spices. Wait five minutes. It reads: ‘Safety first! Cook thoroughly before consuming.’ Does that mean to wait the entire five minutes?”
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “I wish I could have questioned the driver of the Sonata with this personalized plate, as he/she pulled into the lot at the Roseville Target: ‘COWBELL.'”
Our pets, ourselves
And: In memoriam (Canine Division)
The Bitter and Disgruntled Guy from Andover: “A little over a year ago, we had to put our dog Dixie to sleep. Well, not really to sleep; we had to put her down. I hate euphemisms.
“She had a rough start in life, abused and malnourished, and when we got her she was afraid of her own shadow. She was in an abusive home for about two years before she was rescued.
“Anyway, because of her past, she ran away from home more times that I could count. She loved my wife, Beth, because she was abused by a man, so Beth was her lifeboat. She was wary of me for at least two weeks and would leave any room I entered. She peed in her crate when we would pet her.
“Over time she became accustomed to me. She figured out I was the one walking her or running her every day. She was strong and broke several leashes, displaying the fact that her will was strong. Over time, she knew she was safe at home.
“Julie, our neighbor, is a well-known animal lover. She tried to lure Dixie in with food and treats and toys, and nothing worked. Nothing worked for 10 years. Then Julie got a dog herself, Moose, and when Dixie saw that she owned a dog, suddenly Dixie was Julie’s best friend. It is too bad she did not figure it out sooner, because Julie cooks gourmet, non-GMO treats for dogs, and the last three years of Dixie’s life were spent over at her house, now with her two dogs, bonding with Caribou and Moose and then eating only the finest treats. Dixie always got the most, because she was the queen.
“Dixie let us adopt Shadow, when Dixie was a senior. She didn’t run anymore for the last few years, and she could not make it all the way around the loop on her walks. Instead, I took her to the dog park with Shadow almost every day, and she would spend an hour walking around and greeting other dogs and being happy. When it was time to go, I would call her, and she would turn and walk the other way, pretending she could not hear me.
“She had one bad day at the end. Her legs gave out while walking down the stairs — but I knew something was off, so I was there to catch her. Her 14 years with us, with that one bad day, made up for the first two years of sh—- days she had. Her legs gave out, and she did not want food. She voided on the carpet in our entryway, and she looked so guilty. It made me cry. When we took her to the vet, I drove through McDonald’s because she loved cheeseburgers. She had no problem eating that!
“I texted the kids and Julie on the anniversary of her death, to let them know it was one year since Dixie died. Derek, my son, said she was in heaven, with her angel wings torn up and lying next to her. One year, on Halloween, Beth put angel wings on Dixie, and Dixie was not happy about it. The first chance she got, she destroyed the wings so she would not have to wear them again. It cracked me up.
“So I am putting this out to the universe today! I love you, Dixie! I miss you, too. Thank God time has washed away the memories of your last day, and I am left with a beach full of happy memories of you. I hope there is a heaven so I can see you again, so we can run again, and we will both be young and will run with the sun against our faces.”
Our pets, ourselves
And: In memoriam (Feline Division)
Swedish Princess (“daughter of Grandma J. of Grant”): “2016 struck again this morning when our dear friends lost their beloved kitty.
“Edgar Algernon Cat was 18 and stiff in the legs. He couldn’t jump up on the furniture anymore. He mostly slept on his little blue quilt. But he still allowed strange children to sling him over their shoulders and carry him like a sack of potatoes. He had soft tan fur with faint tabby stripes, and the sweetest, most mellow temper of any feline any of us had ever known.
“So here’s what I think happened. Prince looked down from the clouds and said: ‘Heaven is very nice, but I wish I had a kitty to pet and cuddle.’ Then David Bowie said: ‘Well, there’s no sweeter kitty in the whole universe than Edgar Algernon Cat of Minneapolis. Why … here he comes now!’
“Sleep well, Edgar. A large cohort of Gen-Xers and their children will all miss you.”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Gift of the Gadgi.
“The Runabout bought me an Echo for Christmas. It was back-ordered and just arrived by UPS yesterday.
“I watched as SHE opened it with glee, immediately plugged it in and hurriedly downloaded the app to HER phone. Since then Alexa has been recording HER grocery lists, playing HER music and answering HER questions about the weather. It’s been hard for me to get a word in edgewise.
“I liken it to an advanced-technology reincarnation of the father’s gift of a Lionel train set to the 1-year old-son.
“Thank you, Dear Runabout. Next year I’m getting you a BB gun.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: She’ll shoot her eye out!
Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon? (responsorial)
Or: Blinded by the lyrics? (responsorial)
In response to the “figgy pudding” (a.k.a. “plum pudding”) items in the December 28 BB and the December 29 BB, here’s Gma Tom: “Because my paternal grandmother was of English decent, plum pudding was a standard Christmas tradition while growing up. Grandmother taught each of her six daughters-in-law to make not only the seasonal treat, but the hard sauce to top it when served.
“Granted, the pudding (of course not a pudding as we know it, nor containing any plums) is an acquired taste, but the buttery, sweet hard sauce is much more likable. As kids, I remember my brother (also some of my children) just licking off the hard sauce and discarding the pudding.
“My sister and I often make the concoction during hot summers when we get a chance to be together, as we live many states apart. The pudding ages very well in the freezer (as does the best fruitcake ever made!).
“I fear, however, that the tradition will not be passed on, as the younger generation has no interest in carrying on the very strenuous chore of making the pudding.
“I always knew that Dickens’s ‘Christmas pudding’ was related to our ‘plum pudding,’ but as many times as I’ve heard and sung the ‘figgy pudding’ lines in the traditional Christmas carol, I did not connect figgy pudding to our Christmas ‘plum pudding.’
Our community of strangers
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Happy New Year, Everyone!
“As 2016 winds down, I remember when it began and I had such high hopes for another year of enjoying Good Little Girl’s stories. Sadly, it was not to be, and I feared that Bulletin Board would never be the same. I was right. It’s not the same, but like Good Little Girl it is still GOOD, thanks to so many writers who also have that marvelous ability to give us photographic mental imagery as they convey their stories to us.
“The changeover from reading Bulletin Board in the newspaper to reading it online was met with trepidation, but now it’s Onward — you damn betcha!
“Thank YOU, [Bulletin Board]. It’s a real plus to have every Bulletin Board column right there on my iPad. I can read the ‘keepers’ over again without having to clip and save them, as I did with the marvelous story by DebK of Rosemount that was printed way back on 1/11/2015. That column is safely tucked away in my copy of ‘Zippy’ by Haven Kimmel; delightful reads, both of them.
“2017, we are ready! How about it? Grandma J. of Grant and Grandma Pat, “formerly from rural Roberts, Wisconsin”: Your stories are always a delight. Wicki-Yah: You outdid herself with that Baby God story!) Tim Torkildson, with your crazy show-biz memories.) IGHGrampa: I LOVE your carpenter stories! And ALL THE REST OF YOU who enrich my day with your well-written tales from other worlds: Tell us another story!”
The next email we received, again from The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “P.S. How could I have neglected to mention the talented nature lovers who contribute so much to Bulletin Board online? They tell THEIR stories through the lenses of their cameras and give us beautiful photographs in living color each day. Thanks, your photographs are truly unforgettable. (How could I have forgotten to mention them?)”
Let’s close the year (Happy New Year, everyone!) with a few more of Mounds View Swede‘s gorgeous pictures from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (today’s are vintage 2010): “We always stop at the Lake of the Clouds overlook to see how things ‘look.’ I had the blue waters I like, but an empty sky this time. I would have liked some fluffy white clouds to add interest.
“The water in the ‘V’ is Lake Superior. I think this would make a good jigsaw puzzle.”